OK, I usually try to space my car seat posts out MUCH more than this, but I read this AutoWeek Magazine editorial by NASCAR driver John Andretti yesterday and felt it was important enough to share. Andretti advocates that children be rear-facing in their car seats until at least age 2.
“In racing, I take every safety precaution to protect myself in the event of an accident. But in everyday driving, I am responsible for more than just my personal safety. I also must protect my passengers.When those passengers are small children, it is crucial to make sure they are buckled in safely and correctly. Safety belts and airbags that serve adults well are not appropriate for tiny bodies, so I want to stay informed about the latest safety studies and guidelines to be sure that I am taking the most effective precautions.
In December 2007, at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, pediatrician Marilyn Bull announced groundbreaking research about car-seat safety for children. Children 12 months to 23 months old are five times less likely to die or suffer serious injuries in a crash when riding in rear-facing car seats than those in forward-facing seats.Bull strongly advises parents to keep their children in rear-facing seats until they are about two years old or until they reach the maximum height and weight allowed by the car-seat manufacturer. Many models today let children ride facing the rear until they weigh 35 pounds.
This research could result in new recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The current recommendation is that infants ride in rear-facing seats only until they are one year old or weigh 20 pounds.
An Indiana-wide survey conducted by the Kohl’s Center for Safe Transportation of Children at Riley Hospital found that 85 percent of Hoosier infants ride facing the rear. But only 7 percent of children 12 months to 23 months old do so. There’s no reason to suspect that these figures differ significantly nationwide.
As a native Hoosier, I am familiar with the high quality of care at Riley (years ago, my sister and brother were treated there after serious crashes), and I know the source of this information is credible. We must take immediate steps to ensure that our children, our most precious cargo, are safe and secure. Make sure all child seats are installed properly, and remember that for toddlers, facing the rear is safer than facing forward.
John Andretti is a NASCAR and IRL racer, a parent and an advocate for car-seat safety.”
Note: I want to make one clarification. The editorial states that the AAP currently recommends rear-facing until age one year or 20 lbs. This is not true. In fact, the AAP recommends keeping children rear-facing to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer and has recommended this since at least 2002.As always, if you want more info, visit my car seat page or post a question in the comments section.